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December 3, 2012

Third storm in less than week drenches California

SAN FRANCISCO — Residents of Northern California endured the brunt of another powerful storm that drenched the area with yet another round of pounding rain and strong winds, but damage from the storm was less than expected, officials said.

The latest storm system — the third to hit the area in less than a week — moved across the region late Saturday and early Sunday dropping as much as an inch of rain per hour in some areas, toppling trees and knocking out electrical service to tens of thousands of people, officials said.

Rivers across Northern California swelled from the deluge, but did not flood as extensively as had been expected, officials said.

Forecasters had issued flood warnings for the Napa and Russian rivers, two rivers north of San Francisco with a history of flooding, as well as the Truckee River, near Lake Tahoe, but by Sunday afternoon had canceled the warning for the Russian River.

“It (the storm) moved through a lit bit faster than it was looking like it would, so it didn’t plant on top of us and keeping raining,” said Austin Cross, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

In Napa, where officials had handed out more than 8,000 sandbags and about 150 tons of sand before the storm hit, officials breathed a sigh of relief Sunday afternoon after the heaviest rain moved out of the area and the city appeared to avoid any major damage from the storm.

Flood construction projects were credited with keeping the river within its banks through the city, while most of anticipated flooding, expected around 6 p.m. Sunday, was expected to hit a mostly agricultural area outside of the city, officials said.

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